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Facebook ads are all the rage and have been for years in the world of digital marketing. But how do they stack up versus LinkedIn ads for B2B in 2020?
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.
Hey there LinkedIn ads fanatics. So Facebook ads are incredible. And so many marketers swear by them. And it’s probably all you’ve heard for the last five years. But they’re sure a heck of a lot harder to make work for B2B companies. So let’s walk through what you should be using Facebook for and what you should be using LinkedIn ads for, and you’ll find they actually work quite well hand in hand. Let’s hit it. So first, a little bit about each one of the platforms. So Facebook, and I’m sure so much of this is going to be like, like, yeah, AJ, we get this. We know what Facebook is. But it’s a social network that owns about nine percent of your social activity. I mean, between the time that you spend on Facebook and Instagram, and WhatsApp and Oculus VR, and any other sort of Facebook properties out there, it is an incredible time suck and it’s a place where they have access to you. It’s so very powerful for B2C. The interest targeting the level of data that Facebook has on you that marketers can then leverage is incredible. They also and we’ll go a lot deeper into that this, they have the best retargeting technology on the planet. And it’s not the most, it’s one of the most recent ones created. So they’ve done amazing things. And just by virtue of their technology, and the way people use it, it makes it the best retargeting platform. It’s also really insanely good for the top of the funnel, because it’s cheap, and this is what display is supposed to be. It’s about getting your message in front of people who haven’t heard of you before, but also because of their amazing retargeting technology, it plays a significant part all the way through your buyers journey as well. So it’s not just a top of funnel strategy. We know that because it owns about 90% of your social activity, it has high usage. The averages that we see are somewhere around 37 minutes per day used on Facebook. And that’s a lot of time where marketers can be in front of you. It’s a very intensely personal platform. This is where people go to connect to people that they love their friends. And that’s the mindset they’re in is really connecting, consuming, and generally being entertained. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is also a social network, but it’s very, very different. It’s focused 100% around who people are professionally. And if you’re listening to this podcast, I know this is probably not news to you. But LinkedIn started out as kind of like your online resume, and it started that way, but ended up becoming something into like, where you consume professional content and get advice and connect to people. So LinkedIn is really in this resurgence right now or I guess it’s not resurging, it’s a surgence. Starting from where people didn’t really know what it was good for to now we’re seeing a lot of value coming out of it. Now, LinkedIn does not release their usage numbers, but estimates from a 2018 word stream study, say that people spend about 17 minutes per month on LinkedIn. And we know usage has gone up significantly so I wouldn’t be surprised to see, you know, 25-30 minutes a month, on average, maybe even higher here in 2020. But, you know, LinkedIn does not release these numbers, probably because if you compare them to what Facebook is at 37 minutes per day, 25 minutes per month doesn’t sound very amazing. But because of the capabilities of the platform, and if you’re listening to this, I know you believe this. It’s very, very worthwhile. We all know that LinkedIn ads are expensive. But you know, we get the best b2b focused targeting on the planet. And that makes it worthwhile for the vast majority of us. It’s also best used for the middle of the funnel, as we learned from Episode 01, if you listen to that, and that’s really where we want to focus with LinkedIn. It’s too expensive to be at the top of the funnel, you know, at $8 to $11 bucks a click, it’s pretty hard to send people to your blog posts or whatever. And because it’s a social platform, we can’t send people right to the bottom of the funnel to buy something or hop on the phone with a sales rep with any sort of volume because it’s just too much too soon, so it plays best in the middle of the funnel. Okay, so jumping into Facebook’s pros, because there are a lot of pros to it. I will never knock Facebook as a platform. It’s got some incredible technology. It’s just not always of the best use for my clients, but I certainly respect it. So first off, we’ve talked about retargeting. How they have the best retargeting platform on the planet. And because of their amazing reach of having 90% of social activity. When you do retargeting, you can be in front of someone, you know, during so much of what they do and interact with online. That’s pretty amazing.
They also have a technology called look alikes that LinkedIn recently rolled out look alikes. But Facebook has incredible look alike. You can pretty much create a look alike off of any data set that you have. If it’s a retargeting like a web retargeting audience, or maybe a list that you’ve uploaded, or something like that. There’s a slider from 1% to 10%, where you get to say, here’s how tight I want you to make my look alike. So if you leave it at 1%, the minimum This is going to make it the tightest audience that Facebook knows how they’re going to not explore very far outside, just the immediate criteria that makes that person valuable to you. And you can slide it all the way up to 10% where it’s like, hey, show this to anyone who is remotely like this person and everything in between. Very, very cool. But realize that this is a machine that you have to feed with good data. The garbage in garbage out model is especially effective here. If you feed a look alike audience with garbage, it’s going to give you a totally unrelated audience, that’s not going to be helpful. And vice versa. You feed it with great data, like, here’s a list of all of our past customers who have already paid us money. And it might give you a really good list of potential customers you want to go after. Facebook is really good at their optimized objectives. They have so so much data on each person, because they have their whole personal life there in front of them. So all of these millions and millions and millions of interactions, interests likes, who you’re connected to. All of that plays really well into their model. So when you tell them I want you to optimize towards this objective, lots of times it nails it, Facebook video and ads have been incredible for a long time. Now there’s kind of this regular ongoing battle between people who like Facebook video ads and YouTube ads, because they are a very different kind of model how you pay for them and how they’re used. But it’s really hard to deny Facebook came out with video ads very inexpensively. Of course, they lied about how many times your videos were getting seen and all that early on. They’ve set the tones for that. But even still, video advertising on Facebook is very inexpensive. And the best part it works right in with their retargeting platform, you can put two videos in sequence and say once you’ve watched 50% of my video, now I want to show you the next one. And we’re going to get that with LinkedIn here in October of 2020 is current estimates. But yeah, Facebook started with it and it’s great.
There’s also some functionality around events that are really, really cool. So you can run event ads on Facebook, that and then you can actually retarget anyone who clicked that they were interested. And they also have a native integration with Eventbrite. So if you’re putting on a kind of in person event, it’s a, an incredible ad format that I hope LinkedIn has a copy of at some point. And what I’m imagining is, if you had something like a digital meeting, like a webinar or a summit, something like that could be really cool on LinkedIn. And when you use an event ad, the day before your event happens, you get a free push notification to anyone who said that they were interested, which I think is awesome. Facebook was one of the first to the chatbot game. So you can go in and do a type of ad format called messenger ads. And you can do lead generation through messenger with prompts instead of form fields. And that really leads to high conversion rates, makes you feel like you have a relationship with this company because of how interactive it is. And you can connect with things like drift and mobile Monkey and other chat bot types of software. And then really keep in front of people keep conversations alive, keep a relationship happening. And that’s again, something I think LinkedIn will fall into step with here at some point. But you know, for right now, Facebook is just amazing for the chat bot experience where you don’t have to have a live human chatting with someone. Now, Facebook does have some targeting around B2bB that you should probably be aware of. They have things like your job title, your industry, company name, and they used to have things like company size, office type, seniority, and other types of targeting. Now, I don’t know what was fueled by Facebook guessing or how much was fed by third party data sources. But the B2B targeting on Facebook has always been really rough, very small proportion of people I’m estimating something like 4% to 6% of people would even bother to write their professional information in so there’s just not much there to begin with. And those who did have it, oftentimes it would be outdated, they would have their position from, you know, six months ago or a year and a half ago listed. And then, of course, all of us B2B marketers, we would target these same people by job title, because that’s who we want to go after. And we would try to max that out. And so it becomes competitive really quickly driving prices up. Facebook also owns Instagram. So Instagram reach is, you know, great right now. And it’s such a hot network, the younger generation tends to have really adopted Instagram. So the older generation going to be on Facebook, the younger going to be on Instagram, with a large subset of the population using really both Costs on Facebook have always been a subject of interest, because they started out being very low cost. And we keep hearing rapidly how costs are rising on Facebook, sometimes triple digit percentages every quarter. So we’re getting to a point now where Facebook is going To start getting into the realm of being LinkedIn expensive, but there are still opportunities, there’s tons and tons of inventory out there. And they’re always opening up new targeting, new inventory, new ad formats, which really do help keep costs low. But you know, certainly, we’re seeing costs rise quickly. And people do spend a ton of time on Facebook. It’s really the go to app, especially with messenger. You know, people are on there talking to their friends all the time. This is definitely a network where people will spend a lot of time. And of course, Facebook is not all sunshine and rainbows. On the con side here. When you put B2B stuff on Facebook, it’s perceived as boring and it tends to get punished with really heavy costs. So on the B2C side, you might see costs in the, you know, .30 to .80 cents to get someone to your website. But on Facebook, you might see it’s really hard to get someone onto your website for a B2B offer. You might be looking at similar cost per click clicked to LinkedIn. I was looking at an example yesterday with someone paying $6 to $12 per website visitor from Facebook. So yeah, that’s definitely definitely in LinkedIn territory. And of course, like we mentioned, the cons here about Facebook, the B2B data that it has is outdated. And also, you know, pretty weak. It’s not over much of the population. And as soon as you’ve really maxed out the data that seems to be pretty exact for you in b2B, like around job title or company name, of course, you then have to scale up and start getting into things like interests and other ways of targeting your type of professional, and of course, costs come down when you do that, but so does your lead quality. So your quality of lead gets really low on Facebook because of how weak the targeting is. But it’s also less expensive in a lot of cases. So people want to start there. They want to dip their toe into the B2B marketing or social advertising realm there on facebook. And that makes a lot of sense to me. When you are a b2b advertiser, you have to understand the mindset that they’re in, they are most likely distracted, they are there to be entertained. They could be on their way to go play Farmville, they might be looking at pictures of grandkids, or anything in between, you just don’t know. And so if you’re giving them an offer, it’s really hard to predict what mindset they’re in and how ready they’re going to be for that offer.
All right, let’s jump into LinkedIn then. The pros, people are there for work, they’re in the right mindset. And what that means is you give them an offer that augments either their professional life, their career, and they’re going to have high conversion rates, and really hold you in a professional, very favorable kind of light. As I’m sure you know, it has by far the best targeting for professionals on the planet. So you as a B2B advertiser, you care about this targeting a lot. You want to be able to target them by their job title, their department, their seniority, their skills, the groups that their members of, their company name, their company size, industry, skills, groups, all of these things really spell out exactly the way you’d want to target and speak to your ideal audience here. And one of the favorite things of mine about the network is not only is this targeting amazing, but if you’re targeting white collar professionals, especially in North America, where I am, so many people, so many of these professionals have a LinkedIn profile. And so it’s really near perfect scale. Whereas on Facebook, you might hope to hit you know, 4% to 6% of your ideal target audience, because that’s really all who would bother to put their professional information into their profile. On LinkedIn, you might hit 95% of them as long as you’ve got the budget for it. So it’s a great way of giving you perfect access to your ideal audience, even if the costs are quite high. We also know that LinkedIn professionals tend to keep their profiles up to date, because it’s a reflection of their professional self. They are interested in what other people think about them and know about their careers. And this is really the point of LinkedIn. This is where you go to kind of update your resume, as people expect. So LinkedIn tends to have the most updated version of, you know, where someone is at in their career. I like to joke that I, you know, LinkedIn is the second person to know after I make a career change, after my wife, I tell my wife first, and then I go and update my LinkedIn, because I’m proud of who I am professionally and I want everyone that I’ve done business with in the past to see what I’m up to. And, you know, be able to also generate leads going forward, because as long as people know what it is you’re doing, they can refer people and so it becomes this virtuous cycle. The lead quality from LinkedIn tends to be crazy high, and that is probably because of two different factors. Number one is the targeting you’re only going to target the people who would make a really good fit for your product or service, of course, but then it’s also really high quality. Because the mindset that people were there for when they saw your ad, they didn’t associate you with the belly fat ads of Facebook, they associate you with their colleagues, their work, their professional life, and so they’re going to tend to trust you more right off the bat. Now, certainly LinkedIn has its cons as well, chief and foremost here, is the cost. Now we’re seeing an average cost per click of between $8 to $11 cost per click right now. And that’s only going to rise. You know, some of our clients have to bid in the $14, $15, $16 range to get traffic. Certainly we have clients who are paying well below that as well. But that’s really the new normal, this is where we’re going to be paying.
You also have to grab their attention quick, because while they’re on LinkedIn, they are usually busy, they’re on their way to go do something. And so you’ve got to get the value out very quickly. On Facebook, the real common knowledge and practice is make your ads long, tell a story, try to lead them in, and you know, tease them. On LinkedIn, you don’t really get to bug someone for 45 seconds while they try to figure out what you’re trying to sell them. You really have to get right to the point. So think on LinkedIn, you move quick. And that’s not necessarily a con, it’s just the approach you have to use. We also know that LinkedIn tends to be pretty middle of the funnel, because of the cost. Like, it’s difficult to treat it like a top of funnel platform. When the costs are so high. It’s, you know, maybe middle of funnel cost, but top of funnel type of mindset. So if I could have my wish with LinkedIn, I would love to see costs go down. So we could treat it as more of a top of funnel type of traffic, but because of the cost, we have to send them right to the middle of the funnel, most of the time asking for some kind of information in exchange for a content asset of some kind. Okay, now we’re going to take a quick break for a sponsor, and then afterwards, we’ll dive right into some other areas here, like retargeting and how each of these should fit into your marketing mix.
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B2Linked as an ad agency and LinkedIn ads is all we do. So fill out the form on any of the pages of B2Linked.com to get in touch, and our team will help you enact all of these strategies and more to get you the best ad performance. All right, now we can jump right into retargeting. So LinkedIn has a retargeting platform as of 2017, as you’ll know from Episode 03, where we went through the whole history, and the retargeting platform is just it’s pretty weak and nothing against LinkedIn on this. It’s a technological hindrance here. The reason why is because the retargeting is all cookie based. And we know that half of LinkedIn traffic comes from mobile and about half of mobile traffic is on iOS devices like iPhone, iPad, and those and any Safari browser, or Mozilla Firefox browser, none of those will accept this third party cookie. And so immediately, you know, let’s say you pay for 300 visitors to come to your website, because you know that the minimum audience size to retarget on LinkedIn is 300. But then you find out I’ve actually got to buy more like 600 visitors to my website before I’ll fill up that that audience so that I can start targeting them. So you really have to have a high amount of traffic for this to really be valuable. And you know that half of your visitors won’t even qualify to be retargeted. The other thing about LinkedIn retargeting is that people don’t spend very much time on LinkedIn. And so if there’s not a lot of time to get in front of them. Not a lot of opportunities for you as a marketer to stay top of mind. And it’s not exactly inexpensive either. You know, we see that if we pay $10 bucks for a click, we might pay $5 for a retargeting click. So it’s not a huge discount, but certainly it is appreciated. And I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t use LinkedIn’s retargeting, you absolutely should. There’s no reason not to because it’s certainly cheaper and it’s a way to get in front of a warm audience. But if you’re relying on it on its own, you’re missing out on a lot of value. So the retargeting Dream Team, as I like to call this, and I would recommend you send all of your traffic, maybe not all, you’ll have other traffic sources too, but you’ll use LinkedIn to send exactly the right people to your website. But then you’ll use Facebook’s retargeting platform, which is the best tech on the planet for retargeting to stay in front of them. What that gets you is this ability to stay in front of these people that you might have paid $8 to $10 bucks a click on LinkedIn to acquire them. But then once you have them on Facebook, you might be paying, you know, $1 to $1.50 per click to your stay in front of them and that’s incredibly powerful. Not to mention Facebook’s retargeting is all engagement based, so it doesn’t rely on the cookie like LinkedIn’s does. And so any action they take whether they are on desktop on mobile, they’re always logged in Facebook has an incredible reach and insight into who these people are. And you can stay in front of them on multiple machines. Basically, wherever they are on the planet. It’s awesome. Now, Google’s tech is not half bad either. If you’re retargeting on Facebook, you pretty much get access to them anywhere on Facebook or Instagram. But if you do the same retargeting logic on Google, you get access to probably 90% of the web, which is what we call the Google Display Network, or GDN. And this is a great way of using very similar awesome retargeting technology for very inexpensive to stay in front of people wherever they are on the web. So Facebook hits them on social Google hits them on the web, that is my ideal retargeting audience. Now, when we get Engagement retargeting from LinkedIn, I’m definitely going to recommend layering that on there. And this is probably in October. So if you’re listening to this after October, I hope you in the future are getting to use this. Then I will probably recommend always using all three. And I’m really excited for LinkedIn’s retargeting to get much better so that I can use a lot for exclusions. That’s my excitement there.
So as you’re thinking about your marketing mix, what part really should Facebook play in that? Well, I would say if your audience is on Facebook, and you can reach them there for less expensive, then I would go at it all day long, I would put as much budget towards it as possible. But let me qualify this when when I say if you can reach your audience there for less expensive, I don’t mean if you can show your ad there for less expensive because you can. I mean, if your cost per qualified lead is less on Facebook than it is on LinkedIn, then I would continue to invest there and I would invest big. This doesn’t always happen. And in fact, it doesn’t happen really often at all, for my experience, because Facebook sure is cheaper. But as soon as you start throwing out all of the bad leads, because they were unqualified, or they were mom and pop kinds of audiences, you know, tangentially related, you start looking at, okay, what do we actually get for the sales team here, and lots of times you’re going to notice that your costs are much higher than they even would be on LinkedIn. So your job as a marketer is to get much more sophisticated than the platform’s are by default. It means you have to use these channels at the acquisition level, and then blend them all with their costs after the form fill with a CRM to get this data and understand what your cost per qualified lead is, or cost per proposal or cost per closed customer. All of these are things that none of the platforms will give you readily, but you as a sophisticated B2B marketer are going to be able to do and you will be able to see exactly how much you should continue to spend on Facebook versus LinkedIn. I would suggest here that Facebook is really good for dipping your toe into the water of social ads, and getting a feel for how people like your content and your ads. It’s a really good testing ground, I think, because for not very much money, you can put your content and offers out there and see how people engage with them. So if you are a small company just getting started, or you don’t have very much budget, I love the idea of starting on Facebook, put an offer together, target the very best you can and just see, does my content get a 6% conversion rate? Does it get a 50% conversion rate or somewhere in between. And keep in mind that if you’re doing business for business sake, you’re probably not going to work very well on Facebook. What I mean by that is if work is a core part of you, and you hang out with your friends talking about work, then Facebook is going going to be a good place to get in front of those types of people, because they’re going to be on Facebook, and they’re going to be in this business mindset. If you’re going after jobs where people tend to check out at 5pm, and they just don’t want to be thinking more about work, then reaching them on Facebook, when they’re trying to take their relaxation time is probably not going to work very well. There are some segments that I found to be very reachable on Facebook. And that would be things like small business owners, freelancers, real estate agents, people who are into MLM or multi level marketing. Those are the types of people who really make Facebook their playground, even if they shouldn’t. This is just, it’s where they’re comfortable personally, and then that’s where they try to build their businesses. Now, forgive me for the ammunition and the guns reference here. But I like to think of Facebook like a shotgun approach to marketing. It’s one bullet that doesn’t cost very much but it spreads really broadly across a target. It’ll hit the target a few times, a few times it’ll miss, it’s really good value. And you can really do a lot of it, you can do a lot of damage, tends to be a very broad kind of approach, not very precise. So then as we start thinking about LinkedIn, how it plays into your marketing mix, let’s carry that metaphor a little bit further. LinkedIn is really a lot like a sniper rifle kind of approach to marketing. It is highly targeted, you are going to hit that target come hell or high water, it takes a much more thoughtful approach. And you know that a shotgun shell doesn’t cost very much, but that sniper round costs a lot. And so you invest a lot more into it. And you really only get a few shots on goal with this. Whereas Facebook, you kind of get to spray and pray a little bit. And if you have a very narrow subset of highly valuable target audience, LinkedIn really is a no brainer. I was talking to a client the other day who has a an audience of 3,000 people worldwide who could buy their product. And I said, it really doesn’t matter what you offer them, you should just be in front of them at every possible turn because if there’s only 3000 people that doesn’t cost very much on LinkedIn to stay in front of them and get every chance for an impression, you can. Now you are obviously a sophisticated marketer if you’re listening to this. So you’re going to be measuring how the leads convert past the initial form fill. And this is where LinkedIn really wins, because everyone who isn’t measuring is, is complaining about how high the cost per lead is, or cost per form fill, but you’re going to go deeper, you’re going to be measuring what’s my cost per marketing qualified lead from the CRM, what’s my cost per sales qualified lead, my cost per proposa,l cost per closed deal, what’s my ROI, and as you’re doing this, you will be comparing the platforms and my guess is for the vast majority of you, LinkedIn is going to start looking really good. Sure that initial cost per click is high, but your access to the most highly targeted, the most valuable prospects that would ever do business with you is totally unprecedented.
So as we start talking about opportunities here, and you know what the outlook looks like for each of these networks, I would say that on Facebook, B2B brands tend to be pretty hung up on brand image. And so they tend to keep things pretty drab, which on Facebook, you really have to come across as conversational, as fun, as funny. And so Facebook does not work very well for B2B brands, unless they get a little bit fun. And on LinkedIn, lots of people are starting to push the envelope on LinkedIn, and trying to be creative. And this makes for a really fun kind of environment. And of course, the name of the game in marketing has always been standing out to get a disproportionate amount of attention. So anything you can do on LinkedIn right now, especially where people aren’t totally understanding of, you know this is a professional place, but we can also have fun. Try to push the envelope with things like meme ads, or one of the best performing images I ever had was an illustrated cartoon or comic just stand out a little bit. And don’t be don’t take your brand image too seriously. Unless your brand guidelines team is really down your throat. User generated content creative is trending really high right now on Facebook. And I don’t think it’s going to be very long until we start seeing a lot of that on LinkedIn, too. So feel free to jump the gun and start moving the direction that we’ve seen people on Facebook have success with in the past. Okay, I’ve got some great episode resources for you coming up right after the break. So stick around.
Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.
Okay, here’s some great resources for you. First of all, in the show notes, you’ll see a link to a YouTube video where I did in just a quick seven minutes, LinkedIn ads versus Facebook ads for B2B. So pretty much a breakdown of this episode. So if you want to send this to a boss or a co worker, so that they just get the gist, that would be a great one to send them. There’s also a link to the Marketing Land article that talks about how Facebook users spend about 37 minutes per day on average. So you can see how Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram all compare with daily usage. You’ll also see the link to the word stream article from 2018, where they show that people spend about 17 minutes per month on LinkedIn. Also, if you’re just looking to get started with LinkedIn ads, because I know many of you are, check out the course that I did with LinkedIn Learning, All About LinkedIn Ads. It is pretty much the whole first hour and a half of what I teach people when I go to train teams internally, individually, and for that, I charge $500 an hour for that training. And I think on LinkedIn, you get it for $25 bucks if you don’t have LinkedIn Pro, or if you do have LinkedIn Pro, it’s free. So it’s a great course to get you started. On whatever podcast player you’re on, please hit that subscribe button so you can keep hearing these episodes. We’re going to keep coming out with them. And of course, I would love it if you would rate and review, because that’s going to help other people know that there’s even a podcast out there about LinkedIn ads. Of course, any ideas you have for the show any subjects you’d like covered. If you want to reach out, hit us up at [email protected] And I will see you back here next week cheering you on and your LinkedIn ads initiatives.